My Favorite Places in Barcelona

8:30:00 AM

I'm finally sitting down to write a post solely focused on my Barcelona trip. I'm not sure if I'll write more about it in the future as its own post, but I have a lot more to say regarding the city and my trip, so if you're planning to visit, let me know if you have any questions.

With that in mind, these were my top 10 favorite places in Barcelona, as well as a few honorable mentions, in no particular order. I know many of these are pretty touristy, but these were my personal favorites and reflected the places I visited while there. In addition, just keep in mind that I went during the low season, so I'm sure lines and such are much more of an annoyance during summer. (Also, for some of these locations, I only have nice vertical pictures, so bear with me. If you're interested in more/better photos, let me know so I can make another post.) I hope this helps!

I was introduced to this small, crowded place through an excursion through my Spanish language school, and I thought it was fabulous. It was my first time trying cava, so I can't promise it actually tasted as fantastically as I make it out to be, but I loved it. The environment is noisy and messy, with people pushing and shoving, but it's a great place to be with a few friends (so you can share a bottle) and drink some great, cheap cava. The food--particularly the cheeses and jamon--are incredible as well. It's tucked away enough that many tourists don't reach it but still open enough that you will find some sprinkled here and there.

A natural segue from Can Paixano would be Barceloneta, as it's only a short walk away from the champaneria. The beach is beautiful, even if you're just walking down the path and not actually sitting in the sand or playing in the water (I was in Barcelona during the winter and also was at Barceloneta in the evening). Further down the path, you can also find some really fancy night clubs if you're into that, and on the other side is the famous W Barcelona hotel. From the beach you can also see Gehry's Golden Fish sculpture. And if you weren't full from Can Paixano, I've heard that there are some great seafood restaurants around as well.

Moving on from the beach to the museums, my first one has to be Fundació Joan Miró. Everyone wants to go to the Picasso Museum, and while it was nice, it didn't blow my mind, and I was actually pretty disappointed by the hype. And I know Miró's work isn't for everyone, but I, for one, love it. I fell in love with his work when I wrote about his painting The Birth of the World for my seminar class in school, and I was so excited to see more of his works, including his earlier works, his larger works, his sculptures, and his tapestries. I was also happily and pleasantly surprised upon finding one or two of Calder's works, especially an incredible fountain.

Speaking of fountains, one can't miss the Magic Fountain at MNAC/Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. I wasn't able to watch the beautiful show and see the fountain working while I was there, but my friend, who stayed longer, said it was fabulous. Regardless of whether or not the fountain is working, I highly recommend going up to Montjuic and visiting the art musuem (if that's your thing), which aren't too far from the Miró museum. At the top of the mountain, you can go up to the castle/fortress and get a wonderful view of the city. (You can also visit the Olympic stadium, some other museums, and walk through the botanical garden.) Then, there's MNAC, which is an incredible art museum. Not only is the architecture of the museum itself a splendor, but the artwork in it is amazing as well. Depending on what time of day you're there, you can head to the roof and watch the sun set as you look out at the city and down towards Plaça d'Espanya. (You can then head down for the fountain show, probably.) And in the museum itself, you'll find lots of famous works, including works by el Greco. There's a lot of spectacular religious art there too.

And continuing with these great transitions, if you're into religious works, you obviously can't miss some of Barcelona's churches. An amazing church that isn't as well-known as La Sagrada Familia and the Catedral de Barcelona is the Santa Maria del Mar. I visited the church twice, once when I stumbled into it by accident as I was exploring and once when I went as an excursion with my Spanish school. Though not as grandiose as the other two aforementioned churches, it is marvelous in its own right. Unlike the other two, whose construction was supported by the Church and the government, Santa Maria del Mar was funded and built by the seamen and merchants living in the area. Considering this feast makes the Santa Maria del Mar seem even more amazing.

And of course, you can't miss Barcelona's famous basilica. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I have a particular leaning towards religious buildings, as I find them fascinating. And with La Sagrada Familia, if you're interested in architecture, mathematics, or anything related, you can find the science and math behind it interesting, even if you don't care for the religious aspects. Standing by the glass windows as the light poured in, one side blue and green, the other red, yellow, and orange, literally took my breath away. I also went to pray for personal reasons and felt so at peace and so calmed. But as I said, I think it's great even if you aren't religious and is just one of those buildings that you're expected to have seen and visited if you've ever been to Barcelona.

If you're interested in moderisme and seeing more of Gaudi's work, there's plenty of that to be found in Barcelona. It was tough narrowing it down to my highlights, but Casa Batllo was definitely one of them. While much of Gaudi's work can start to look the same after a while, I really loved this house. The curves, the blue colors, the inspiration of the water, all of it added up to a really serene home. The interior is much more interesting, in my opinion, than Casa Mila/La Pedrera, so if you're picking between one or the other, this is my answer.

The last of my Gaudi places is another famous one. Parc Güell contains both the paid and unpaid parts. I know a lot of people don't think it's worth paying, but I wasn't about to pass off the opportunity, and I'm glad I didn't. I love views, and you know you're in for a good one as you climb up the hill to reach the park. But beyond the famous view and benches you see in all the pictures, there are other areas of the park which are really nice, particularly the arches, which I loved walking through. And the famous staircase that greets you as you walk in is also really marvelous, though crowded. You can see more of Gaudi's architecture by walking through the little house exhibit they have on one side of the entrance. But if you're not willing to pay for the ticket, the grounds around the paid part are really nice as well, and you can still get some nice views, I believe. I personally didn't walk around the outside area much because I didn't have time, but I really enjoyed the park itself and didn't find it to be a waste.

Okay, so I had a good transition, but I wanted to save my favorite for last, so this is awkward #9. I was choosing between putting this neighborhood and the one in my honorable mentions in my top 10 but ultimately felt that I personally enjoyed Barrio Gotico more and explored it a lot more. I'm a sucker for the small streets and winding nature of the roads--until I get lost, of course--and I loved walking through this part at different times of the day. There's so much to find in this area, and I love the history of the entire neighborhood.

LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST is my number one place to visit in Barcelona. It's a bit of a journey to get there, but it is so worth it. I wish I could have gone back to see the sun set and see the city from above at night, but alas that didn't happen. But if you at all appreciate gorgeous views of a city, this is your spot. It's 360 degrees of wonderful views. You can see the Mediterranean, the few skyscrapers, the beach, some of the churches, the whole city, the surrounding suburbs (I think?), etc. In most pictures you'll only see the side facing the Sea, but it's truly beautiful all around. There's a section that blocked off by a low fence, which you're not supposed to climb over, but I'm telling you now that everyone does it. It's where you're going to get your best shots of the city facing the water. This is the one spot I recommend to everyone and is the first place I'd revisit.

Poble Espanyol:

I really enjoyed visiting this outdoor museum showcasing architecture throughout Spain. It's a great starting place if you're interested in the different regions of Spain and their different cultures, especially if you're not able to travel the country widely yet.

Another great food location! Rekons is known for their Argentinian empanadas, and they are fabulous and delicious.

El Born: 

A great neighborhood to walk around and window shop in. It's near the Santa Maria del Mar, and the Mercat del Born is home to some more ruins if you're into history like I am. I found this area quieter than some of the others but just as nice. I only wish I could have spent more time here.

Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau: 
This place isn't for everyone, but I loved walking around this old hospital. The architecture is amazing, and when I went, it was pretty empty, so it was nice to look around peacefully. Even though I know it wouldn't be completely feasible, I wish modern hospitals looked more like this one!

Port Vell: 

Busy but beautiful. You can walk to the park-ish area, walk across the bridge and go shopping, or just sit by the boardwalk/pier and watch the people and the ships/cruises in the port.

I hope you all enjoyed reading a bit about some of my favorites from Barcelona, even if some of them are a bit touristy.

Have you been to Barcelona? What were some of your favorite places? If you haven't been, what do you want to see or do most?

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